Keeping colleagues safe during the festive season: 3 ways to protect and empower your team

Article by Martyn Jones | 2nd December 2020

Colleague safety in 2020

Retail colleagues have had a tough year, providing a vital service under challenging circumstances. For every retailer, colleague safety is a top priority.

Earlier this year we commissioned a  survey of retail colleagues in which we asked them about their concerns in light of the pandemic. 90% said that they felt vulnerable at work, and 75% said that they sometimes feared for their physical safety. Data from LinkedIn yielded similar results, with 60% of UK retail workers saying they were worried about exposure to COVID-19. A further 46% expressed concerns about being in close proximity to others. 

The virus is not the only threat that retail colleagues are facing. Our survey found that  48% had experienced verbal abuse during the pandemic, and 32% had encountered physical abuse. As we enter the busy Christmas period, it is more important than ever that we put colleague safety first:

1. Instant team communication with Keypads and Call Points

VoCoVo Keypads help colleagues, especially at the checkout, to keep their distance without sacrificing communication. When a colleague requires assistance, they simply select the relevant option on the Keypad. This sends an automated message to all colleagues, telling them both the nature of the request and its location. Colleagues can answer queries using their headset if appropriate, reducing the need to be in close proximity to each other. 

Our research shows that a major concern for colleagues is feeling cut off from their coworkers. 37% feel vulnerable when they are outnumbered by customers and 33% are worried when they can’t contact colleagues for help. Keypads give colleagues a constant channel of communication, meaning they are never alone. 

As well as facilitating communication between colleagues, VoCoVo also simplifies communication with customers. Our Call Points can be placed anywhere in-store, for example on Click & Collect counters, allowing customers to request immediate assistance. When a customer presses a Call Point, a message is sent to all or specific colleagues with the location and nature of the request. 

As with Keypads, Call Points allow colleagues to answer queries from afar without compromising social distancing. Customer service and Click & Collect desks can be left unmanned,  avoiding overcrowding in these areas. 

Call Points are easy to move around, allowing you to alter the layout of your store at short notice if safety guidelines change. At Christmas time, Call Points could be placed for example to offer assistance with Christmas trees. Best of all, Call Points are hard wired so don’t require charging, or if used with rechargeable batteries Call Points only need to be charged every 90 days, so they won’t let you down in the middle of the Christmas rush. 

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2. Distanced customer queries

Our Headsets enable colleagues to make enquiries and summon help while maintaining social distancing. If a customer asks about stock levels, colleagues can contact the stock room directly. If a colleague is unable to answer a customer enquiry, they can ask an expert without having to track them down. 

VoCoVo Headsets use duplex technology. This means that, unlike walkie talkies, audio flows in both directions. This allows you to speak and listen simultaneously, just like you would in a face to face conversation. With a 55 hour battery life and a total weight of just 28 grams, there’s no reason you can’t wear them all day long. 

Find out more about our Headsets

3. Safe team meetings

Social distancing has put a temporary halt to the morning huddle, but team meetings are still vital. As well as making sure that everyone is up to date on the latest safety guidelines, team meetings are important for morale. 

Our headsets create an open channel of communication between colleagues. Managers can hold socially distanced meetings with flawless sound. Our headsets use digital radio technology to provide the highest quality audio. Whether you and your colleagues are on different sides of the store or different sides of the country, it will feel like you’re in the same room. 

This is also helpful when it comes to relaying messages from HQ. COVID-19 regulations are liable to change at short notice, so fast responses are vital. The message casting feature on our headsets allows HQ to send updates to all stores simultaneously, keeping everyone on the same page. 

Find out more about message casting

Colleagues can feel safe

As we near the end of an extraordinary year, it is important to acknowledge the hard work and sacrifices of our retail colleagues. Thank you from all of us at VoCoVo, we appreciate your hard work.

Get in touch for more advice on staying safe over the festive period.

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